We recently came across this Red-tailed Hawk in our travels of Southern Ontario. A big beautiful bird sitting on top of a roadside construction sign. What really got our attention was the crowd of people, mostly photographers, surrounding this bird.
Can you see the Hawk in the shot? Upper left sign to the red car.
Of course we pull over. Angie opted out of getting out of the truck and enjoyed the view of a Snowy Owl off in the distance, in a field on her side. We both initially thought the Hawk must have been injured to sit along side of the road with a growing crowd of people around her. And that was the first thing I asked a couple guys upon my inspection of the bird and scene. They said "no, she's fine, she's just used to people".
How interesting I thought this to be.
I took in a couple minutes with this beautiful bird. I observed her, took some photos of her as she looked on at us all. Having her lock eyes with me for a moment was all I really wanted, just that connection in my head, her and I, and not the dozen plus photographers around us.
I lost my zen moment with her that I fought pretty hard to get with all the distractions as one guy started yelling at another individual to get his truck out of the way, as it was interfering with his shots. These two individuals interacted as the one kept questioning the other on why he had to move his truck and why buddy couldn't move his equipment. Eventually truck guy fired up his vehicle and moved ahead.
I watched as a couple guys with big lenses moved in closer and closer to this bird. I stood back with a couple other guys and we were shaking our heads at them. One guy was maybe 5 ft from the bird now, just crowding in on it. And as he broke this barrier of what most of us would call "that line you don't cross" this prompted a few others to move in too.
There was no point in arguing with this group of people on this because their return statement definitely would be "the bird doesn't mind" as it sat there and did nothing with their invasion of his personal space.
The small joy of seeing this bird quickly disappeared and I returned back to the truck. As I was about to open the driver's door and get in, I took one more look back and saw the Hawk leave it's roadside perch and dive into the field mere feet away. Obviously it just got something to eat and somehow I highly doubt a rodent of sorts would come running through this crowd of people in the field but I could be wrong.
Getting that kill shot... on private property.
Somewhere on another road in the area, I got talking with some other guys out taking photographs. I brought up the Hawk just over that way from us and the even larger crowd on him now. They scoffed in disgust about the goings on over there, the disrespect to the bird, to the farmer's land and of some pudgy little fat bastard who baits the birds for pictures. Ah ha, I knew it!
The act of baiting birds of prey, mostly Owls, is a non-stop argument the last number of years. Personally I am not for it. I like to let things happen naturally when I am out and about. And it's not my thing to throw another live animal out to his death so I can capture the action in photographs.
When I look back at so many of my photos, I can remember where I was and what happened in that outing whether it was some laughs with Angie and friends, or some great bird sightings. But that's just me and that's my friends that share this kind of enjoyment with me.
Some might say "well you took photos Rob!" Yes I did, standing on the shoulder of the road, more than 20 feet away from the Hawk, no baiting was done while I was there, and after 5 minutes or so I moved on.
And when I look back at this Hawk, I only wish her a good life and hope she doesn't end up injured or dead by such close human interaction. *sigh*
Super cropped close-up... hence the graininess of this photo.